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21 September 2005

World Leaders Want U.N. To Take Greater Role in Security

Heads of state recognize terrorism as greatest security threat

By Merle D. Kellerhals Jr.
Washington File Staff Writer

United Nations – World leaders expressed a strong desire during the 2005 World Summit for the United Nations to play the lead role in global collective security.

“We need to empower the United Nations so that it can fulfill its obligation to ensure security for all in the age of global terrorism,” said Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen before the U.N. Security Council.

The Security Council, led by presidents and prime ministers, met in special session September 14-16 during the recent summit and overwhelmingly approved a resolution sponsored by British Prime Minister Tony Blair that outlaws incitement to terrorism across the globe.  The aim is to rein in extremists who foment conflict in areas known for producing terrorists.  (See related article.)

“Terrorism can never be justified.  Terrorism is never a legitimate weapon,” Rasmussen said.  “The targeting and deliberate killing of civilians is unacceptable.”

He said that even though freedom of speech and expression is a key foundation of any modern, democratic society, it never should be an excuse for inciting terrorism and fostering hatred.

Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian President Vladimir Putin said they wanted the United Nations to help coordinate the battle against terrorism.

“The United Nations, as the core of the collective security mechanism, plays an irreplaceable role in international cooperation to ensure global security,” the Chinese leader said.  “Such a role can only be strengthened and must not in any way be weakened.”

President Bush said the U.S. presence at the United Nations reaffirms the seriousness of the challenges faced by all nations, and the shared determination to confront those challenges.

“We meet just over two months after the terror attacks in London, one year after the terrorist massacre of schoolchildren in Beslan, and four years after the terrorist attack in this city,” Bush said.  “Acts of terrorism like these emerge from a radical ideology that tolerates no dissent, and justifies the murder of innocent people as the best way to achieve its goals.”

Blair added that the international community needs to send a unified message “that it is no longer legitimate, not merely in terms of committing acts of terrorism, but in terms of supporting or inciting it.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the U.N. General Assembly "the fight against terrorism must be continued in the most decisive manner."

The Pakistani president, General Pervez Musharraf, warned national leaders that terrorism is the primary threat to world order.

“The motives of terrorists, however misguided, are always political.  We, therefore, need to redress political and economic injustice.  I have suggested a strategy of Enlightened Moderation, which can ensure success in eliminating terrorism and extremism.”

Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis said the end of the Cold War created an entirely different context for international relations as the threat of military confrontation among the two power blocs dissipated.  The world now faces “violent internal conflicts, civil wars, genocide and other large-scale atrocities, causing immense suffering to millions of people,” Karamanlis said.

“Terrorism is undeniably one of the most serious threats to peace and security, menacing the foundation, itself, of our democratic societies.”

Karamanlis said among the best preventative measures against terrorism is the protection of human rights, democracy and social justice among all people.

Kazakhstan Foreign Minister Kasimzhomart Tokaev called on the United Nations to complete work quickly on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, warning that poverty breeds extremism and that "young people are increasingly being sucked into the ideological orbit of international terrorism."

An effort by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to include a definition of terrorism that condemns attacks on civilians did not make it into a final document agreed to by world leaders at the end of the three-day summit.  (See also, “World Summit Concludes with Declaration of U.N. Goals.”)

Annan urged world leaders to "build on that simple statement to complete a comprehensive convention against terrorism in the year ahead and forge a global counterterrorism strategy that weakens terrorists.  We can do it and we must do it."

The 191 U.N. members also were attempting to revamp the world body to meet the challenges and demands of the 21st century, while continuing to fight poverty, hunger, disease, wars and economic need.

For additional information on the world summit, see The United Nations at 60.